The Mass: Its Essential and Ceremonial NatureA presentation given by Father Dylan Schrader for the faculty of St Joseph Cathedral School on 12 August 2010
This presentation aims to answer some questions: • What is the Eucharist? • What is the Mass? • What are the essential characteristics of the Mass of the Roman Rite? • How can I participate at Mass?
To answer these questions well, we must use: • God's Revelation • as carried by Tradition • as reported in Sacred Scripture • as defined and explained by the Magisterium of the Church • The writings of saints • The theories of reliable theologians
But, most of all: • We must immerse ourselves in the Mass, not only studying it but, above all, offering and praying the Mass according to the mind of the Church. • In fact, the most important goal of catechesis on the Mass is a greater participation in the Mass itself. • Moreover, “the best catechesis on the Eucharist is the Eucharist itself, celebrated well” (Benedict XVI, Sacramentum caritatis, n. 64).
Engaging the Mystery • To help us begin to engage the mystery of this Most Holy Sacrament, we will begin by reflecting on the sequence for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the chant entitled Lauda Sion. • This sequence was composed by St Thomas Aquinas at the request of Pope Urban IV in the 13th century. • It contains beautiful and doctrinally-rich lyrics.
Part 1: What is the Eucharist? • The Eucharist can be considered as a sacrament and as a sacrifice. • Part 1 reviews the Church's belief in the Eucharist as a sacrament; Part 2 (What is the Mass?) covers the Church's teaching on the Eucharist as a sacrifice. • We distinguish these two aspects but do not at all wish to separate them.
Part 1: What is the Eucharist? • Institution: The Eucharist is a true sacrament, instituted personally by Jesus Christ, and, by his command, perpetuated in the Church. • “And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.' And likewise the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.'” (Lk 22:19-20. Cf. Mt 26: 26-28; Mk 14:22-24)
Part 1: What is the Eucharist? • St Paul speaks of the celebration of the Eucharist (the Mass) as a command of the Lord and a participation in his death: “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, 'This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.” (1 Cor 11:23-26)
Part 1: What is the Eucharist? • Sacramental Reality: The Eucharist is Jesus Christ under the appearances of bread and wine. • This belief takes true faith, believing in Christ's words because of his authority and not because we actually perceive any change in the bread and wine.
Part 1: What is the Eucharist? • “For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me.” (Jn 6: 56-57)
Part 1: What is the Eucharist? • “Observe well those who are heterodox in respect to the grace of Jesus Christ that has come to us; see how they are opposed to the mind of God. ... They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the Flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins and which, in his goodness, the Father raised.” (St Ignatius of Antioch (d. ca. 107), Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 7, in O'Connor, The Hidden Manna, pp. 15-16)
Part 1: What is the Eucharist? • “Therefore Christ Our Lord, who by suffering offered for us that which, by being born, he had received from us, and who has been made High Priest forever, has given to us the rite of sacrificing that which you see, namely, his Body and Blood. ... Recognize in the Bread that which hung on the Cross; recognize in the chalice what flowed from his side.” (St Augustine, Sermon 228 B, in Hidden Manna, p. 60)
Part 1: What is the Eucharist? • How the Real Presence Comes About: The Real Presence comes about by the total conversion of the substance of bread into the Body of Christ and the total conversion of the substance of wine into the Blood of Christ. • The Church calls this change transubstantiation.
Part 1: What is the Eucharist? • “And because Christ, our Redeemer, declared that which He offered under the species of bread to be truly His own body, therefore has it ever been a firm belief in the Church of God, and this holy Synod now declares anew, that, by the consecration of the bread and of the wine, a conversion is made of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord, and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of His blood; which conversion is, by the holy Catholic Church, suitably and properly called Transubstantiation.” (Council of Trent, Session 13, Chapter 4)
Part 1: What is the Eucharist? • Transubstantiation: A complete change of substance without a change of accidents. • Substance (while meaning various things in philosophy and theology), in this case means “the individual thing, existing stably, of which other things are predicated.” The substance is the subject of existence. • Substance comes from sub + stare = “to stand beneath.” • So, when an apple ripens and changes color, the color changes but it is the same apple. We say that the apple has color, not that the “color has apple.” The apple is the substance.
Part 1: What is the Eucharist? • The term substance also complements the term accident. • Accident comes from accidere = “to happen” • Accidents are not individually existing things but are properties of other things. So, “greenness” is an accident of a green apple. If the apple becomes red, we say that there has been an accidental change, i.e., a change in the accidents of the apple.
Part 1: What is the Eucharist? • There are also substantial changes, which happen all the time. If I eat the apple, my body converts it into energy and tissue. There is no longer an apple. The material that was in the apple has become a new substance. • You will note that the accidents of the apple also go away with the substantial change of the apple: When the apple is digested, it's not green anymore.
Part 1: What is the Eucharist? • In transubstantiation, something totally unique happens: The substance of the bread and wine change into the substance of Christ, but the accidents belonging to the bread and wine remain because God prevents the corresponding accidental change by a miracle. • If transubstantiation were like natural substantial changes, then after the consecration we would immediately see Christ on the altar. Instead, we see the appearances (or species) of bread and wine.
Part 1: What is the Eucharist? • The accidents of the bread and wine continue to exist without a proper subject. • It is wrong to say that the bread and wine continue to exist after the consecration. • It is true that Christ remains locally in Heaven according to the natural manner of existence. • When the Host is moved, Christ is not locally moved, but the accidents of bread and wine are moved. • Christ does not “leave Heaven” when he becomes present substantially on the altar. (Council of Trent, Session 13, Chapter 1)
Part 1: What is the Eucharist? • “Every theological explanation which seeks some understanding of this mystery must, in order to be in accord with Catholic faith, maintain that in the reality itself, independently of our mind, the bread and wine have ceased to exist after the Consecration, so that it is the adorable body and blood of the Lord Jesus that from then on are really before us under the sacramental species of bread and wine, as the Lord willed it, in order to give Himself to us as food and to associate us with the unity of His Mystical Body.” (Paul VI, Credo of the People of God)
Part 1: What is the Eucharist? • The permanent validity of the language of transubstantiation: • “And so the rule of language which the Church has established through the long labor of centuries, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and which she has confirmed with the authority of the Councils, and which has more than once been the watchword and banner of orthodox faith, is to be religiously preserved, and no one may presume to change it at his own pleasure or under the pretext of new knowledge. Who would ever tolerate that the dogmatic formulas used by the ecumenical councils for the mysteries of the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation be judged as no longer appropriate for men of our times, and let others be rashly substituted for them? In the same way, it cannot be tolerated that any individual should on his own authority take something away from the formulas which were used by the Council of Trent to propose the Eucharistic Mystery for our belief. These formulas—like the others that the Church used to propose the dogmas of faith—express concepts that are not tied to a certain specific form of human culture, or to a certain level of scientific progress, or to one or another theological school. Instead they set forth what the human mind grasps of reality through necessary and universal experience and what it expresses in apt and exact words, whether it be in ordinary or more refined language. For this reason, these formulas are adapted to all men of all times and all places.” (Paul VI, Mysterium fidei, n. 24)
Part 1: What is the Eucharist? • Concomitance: “Immediately after the consecration, the veritable Body of our Lord, and His veritable Blood, together with His soul and divinity, are under the species of bread and wine; but the Body indeed under the species of bread, and the Blood under the species of wine, by the force of the words; but the body itself under the species of wine, and the blood under the species of bread, and the soul under both, by the force of that natural connexion and concomitance whereby the parts of Christ our Lord, who hath now risen from the dead, to die no more, are united together; and the divinity, furthermore, on account of the admirable hypostatic union thereof with His body and soul. Wherefore it is most true, that as much is contained under either species as under both; for Christ whole and entire is under the species of bread, and under any part whatsoever of that species; likewise the whole (Christ) is under the species of wine, and under the parts thereof.” (Council of Trent, Session 13, Chapter 3)
Part 1: What is the Eucharist? • The bread becomes the Body of Christ; the wine becomes the Blood of Christ. • Yet, Christ is alive, and, in a living man, body and blood are not separated. • Moreover, in a living man, the soul is present with the body and blood. • Moreover, in Christ, who is truly God and man, his divine nature is present whereever his Body, Blood, and soul are present. • Thus, every particle or drop of the Eucharist contains the Body, Blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ.
Part 1: What is the Eucharist? • How long does the Real Presence last? • The Real Presence of Christ lasts as long as the species (appearances) of bread and wine last. • Thus, Christ is truly present under the smallest visible particle of what appears to be bread or the smallest visible drop of what appears to be wine.
Part 1: What is the Eucharist? • “After holy Communion, not only the hosts which remain and the particles of the hosts which have fallen from them that retain the species of bread, must be reverently reserved or consumed, on account of the reverence which is owed to the Eucharistic presence of Christ, but also with regard to other fragments of the hosts, what is prescribed about purifying the paten and chalice as found in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal must be observed.” (CDF, Decree of 2 May 1972, in Notitiae 8 (1972), p. 227, translation mine)
Part 1: What is the Eucharist? • The essential requirements for transubstantiation: • The matter: True wheat bread and true grape wine. (Paul V, De defectibus) • The form: The words “this is my Body” and “this is the cup of my Blood” or words equivalent in their basic meaning. (Paul V, De defectibus) • The minister: Only a validly ordained priest or bishop. (CDF, Sacerdotium ministeriale, n. 4) • The intention of the minister: To consecrate this bread and this wine. (Paul V, De defectibus)
Part 1: What is the Eucharist? • The Worship we Owe to the Eucharist: The Most Holy Eucharist must is owed the worship of latria, that is, the worship which is due to God alone. • “If any one says that, in the holy sacrament of the Eucharist, Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, is not to be adored with the worship, even external of latria; and is, consequently, neither to be venerated with a special festive solemnity, nor to be solemnly borne about in processions, according to the laudable and universal rite and custom of holy church; or, is not to be proposed publicly to the people to be adored, and that the adorers thereof are idolators; let him be anathema.” (Council of Trent, Session 13, Canon 6)
Part 1: What is the Eucharist? • Some Effects of the Eucharist: • Spiritual nourishment. • Increase of sanctifying grace. • Closer union with Christ and the Church. • Actual graces needed to sustain the Christian life. • The forgiveness of venial sins. • Joy.
Part 1: What is the Eucharist? • “The Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.’ ‘The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.’” (CCC, 1324)
Part 2: What is the Mass? • The celebration of the Eucharist is not just a community meal but a sacrifice according to St Paul: • “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.” (1 Cor 11:26)
Part 2: What is the Mass? • “Therefore, my beloved, shun the worship of idols. I speak as to sensible men; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? ... Consider the people of Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar? What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.” (1 Cor 10:14-21) • Note that he contrasts the Eucharist with the sacrifices offered to demons.
Part 2: What is the Mass? • The Church teaches that the Mass is the same sacrifice as Christ's death on the cross. • The primary priest is the same (Christ). • The victim is the same (Christ). • The recipient of the sacrifice is the same (God the Father). • The purpose of the sacrifice is the same (the forgiveness of sins). • Only the manner of offering the sacrifice is different: the cross was bloody, the Mass is unbloody.
Part 2: What is the Mass? • “And forasmuch as, in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the mass, that same Christ is contained and immolated in an unbloody manner, who once offered Himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross; the holy Synod teaches, that this sacrifice is truly propitiatory and that by means thereof this is effected, that we obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid, if we draw nigh unto God, contrite and penitent, with a sincere heart and upright faith, with fear and reverence. For the Lord, appeased by the oblation thereof, and granting the grace and gift of penitence, forgives even heinous crimes and sins. For the victim is one and the same, the same now offering by the ministry of priests, who then offered Himself on the cross, the manner alone of offering being different.” (Council of Trent, Session 22, Chapter 2)
Part 2: What is the Mass? • Two distinct species (bread and wine) are consecrated in order to accomplish the unbloody re-presentation of Christ's sacrifice. • The visible separation of the species of bread and the species of wine signify the separation of Christ's Body and Blood in death (though, in reality, they are not separated after the Resurrection). • “Now the eucharistic species under which He is present symbolize the actual separation of His body and blood. Thus the commemorative representation of His death, which actually took place on Calvary, is repeated in every sacrifice of the altar, seeing that Jesus Christ is symbolically shown by separate symbols to be in a state of victimhood.” (Pius XII, Mediator Dei, n. 70)
Part 2: What is the Mass? • The sacrifices of the Old Testament prefigured the sacrifice of the Mass, e.g.: • Abel's offering from his flock. • Abraham and Isaac: “God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” (Gen 22:8) • Melchisedek's offering of bread and wine. • The Passover Lamb. • The Mass completes and surpasses all these, which were shadows of it. (Heb 10:1)
Part 2: What is the Mass? • What kind of sacrifice is the Mass? • A sacrifice of praise. • A sacrifice of thanksgiving. • A sacrifice of impetration (petition). • God is moved to grant graces he would otherwise not have granted. • A sacrifice of propitiation (atonement, satisfaction). • God's wrath is turned away and his mercy gained. • “If any one says that the sacrifice of the mass is only a sacrifice of praise and of thanksgiving; or, that it is a bare commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross, but not a propitiatory sacrifice; or, that it profits him only who receives; and that it ought not to be offered for the living and the dead for sins, pains, satisfactions, and other necessities; let him be anathema.” (Council of Trent, Session 22, Canon 3)
Part 2: What is the Mass? • The Mass is not another sacrifice in addition to Christ's death on the cross. It is the same sacrifice as his death on the cross. • Christ does not die again in the Mass. • Rather, the Mass is the re-presentation, the making-present of his death in various times and places. • This re-presentation of Christ's perfect sacrifice was foretold in the Old Testament: “For from the rising of the sun, even to its setting, my name is great among the nations; And everywhere they bring sacrifice to my name, and a pure offering; For great is my name among the nations, says the LORD of hosts.” (Mal 1:11) • This is a prophecy from Malachi. The prophet reports that the gentile nations will continually make a pure offering to the true God.
Part 2: What is the Mass? • “I wish to add something that is clearly awe-inspiring, but do not be surprised or upset. What is this? It is the same offering, no matter who offers it, be it Peter or Paul. It is the same one that Christ gave to His disciples and the same one that priests now perform: the latter is in no way inferior to the former, for it is not men who sanctify the latter, but He who sanctified the former. For just as the words which God spoke are the same as those that the priest now pronounces, so too the offering is the same.” (St John Chrysostom (b. ca. 347), Homily on the Second Epistle to Timothy 2.4)
Part 2: What is the Mass? • The Mass is the perfect worship of God, since it is the perfect worship of God the Son (true God and true man) offered to his heavenly Father. • The Mass is a foretaste of the heavenly wedding feast. • The Mass is the true Passover meal. • The Mass is the foundation of the Christian life. • The Mass is the culmination of the Christian life on earth.
Part 2: What is the Mass? • “The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.” (CCC, 2181)